The Halftime Spray - Round 22

Last weekend the Newcastle Knights staged a magnificent victory against the Melbourne Storm, scoring a try after the siren sounded to level the scores, before the boot of Kurt Gidley sealed the miraculous victory.

It prompted Craig Bellamy to go into a tirade against one of the two on-field referees, Ashley Klein, claiming Klein had some sort of vendetta against the Storm.

Bellamy said: "Ashley Klein obviously doesn't like the way we play our footy. We've had that many times when we've had him this year and the penalty count, it hasn't even been close. Every time we have Ashley we always seem to be on the wrong side of the penalty count and a fair way on the wrong side."

Craig, your abysmal sportsmanship aside, you are completely wrong, on several points.

  • If Klein doesn't like the way you play and has an issue with the Melbourne Storm, why is it that your team has won 14 of 24 games played under Klein's control?
  • Klein has officiated 6 of Melbourne's 20 games this year. They were:
    Round 2 - Melbourne def Penrith 18-17. Melbourne won the penalty count 11-10
    Round 4 - Canterbury def Melbourne 40-12. Penalties were drawn 7 all.
    Round 8 - Warriors def Melbourne 16-10. Warriors won the penalty count 5-4
    Round 12 - North Queensland def Melbourne 22-0. Cowboys won the penalty count 7-4
    Round 16 - St George-Illawarra def Melbourne 24-12. Penalties were drawn 3 all.
    Round 22 - Newcastle def Melbourne 32-30. Newcastle won the penalty count 11-3
  • Prior to last weekends game, Melbourne had won 1 penalty count, drawn 2 counts and lost 2 counts. They had received 29 penalties to their opponents 32, in games refereed by Klein this season.

Hardly 'a fair way on the wrong side.'

Melbourne has a long history of introducing ugly wrestling tactics to ball carriers to slow down the play the ball or disable opponents. So proficient were they that the NRL brought in laws against the crusher tackle and the chicken wing.

Melbourne's latest tactic has involved a defender lifting up one leg of an attacker as high as they can in an attempt to halt their momentum and turn them around.

Given how badly one of their lifting tackles went earlier the year on Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon, you would think the Storm would abandon this particular practice.

It's grubby, it's ugly, it makes the game look unattractive, it injures players and even laws have had to be made to restrict the usage of some of their tactics.

Klein has every right to not like their style of football.

And to learn that Klein has been punished and dropped to lower grades after Bellamy's outright lies is utterly disgraceful.

Bellamy's comments were no doubt a ploy to get referee's to officiate in a manner more favourable toward the Storm.

And that is as deplorable as Melbourne's wrestling tactics.

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